Posted in Uncategorized

Where Have All the Teachers Gone?


The hallway is clean and shiny as if the floors have just been waxed this morning. You hear your footsteps echo in click-clacks down the hall as you walk slowly and peer into the rooms through the windows on the doors. The rooms are empty, but today you have a strange sense of curiosity about what this place was like some time in the distant past.

Your parents told you stories about what school was like for them. How strange it must have been to have an actual person in the room leading the class in discussions and activities that happened in the room you were in with them. You can not even imagine. Even when you were in school, instruction happened more from a distance and interactions with the others there with you were few and far between.

You stop at a room that you heard used to be a science class. As you look into the room that has been filled with rows of console stations, probably 40-50 total, you think about what it might of looked liked with lab tables and equipment for real experimentation. Holy crap, it must have been so unsafe. You pause at the thought, and then smile. You bet it was fun.

You remember your mom telling you that one of her teachers once brought in a balloon. You can’t remember what you said she told you it was filled with, but it floated like a helium balloon you recall from childhood birthdays. She said that the teacher lit a match on a long pole and touched it to the balloon and it turned into a fireball. A small one, but a fireball, all the same. It was probably frightening. But still, again you smile, it was probably also amazing.

As you think about that, you also have a memory of your mom telling you about the time that same teacher brought her family a pizza one Friday night. What a nice person to be willing to do that. She said that her parents gave the teacher money. You don’t know why. She also told you that the teacher had on a hat of the pizza company. The guy must have really liked that pizza.

As you walk away, saddened a little, you think about how when you were a student, there were seldom times you really knew your teachers. They were in the room some of the time, but it was more about checking on progress than teaching you anything. You had your digital learning system doing most of that work, so teachers did not have to worry about that much. They were too busy to help you learn because the digital systems were still glitchy when you were in school and they needed to work out the kinks.

Besides, as your parents told you, most of the great teachers they had or knew about moved on from the world of working with students. They said they could not afford to do it anymore. Teaching was a job that did not pay well and had a lot of responsibility. That must be part of the reason the profession was phased out. Even when you were in school a lot of states did not even use the word anymore.

Your title, Educational Facilitation Technician, does suit what the role has become better, anyway. Your facility only requires six total to handle the 600-plus student load. Efficiency is key. There is no need for the extra effort, because the learning systems handle all of that.

Still, you think as you arrive at your small office to load the systems to the consoles in the room, you think about how it might have been to be a teacher. As you sit down and launch the program to the rooms on your hall, your wonder where all of the teachers went to and those that might have become one are doing in the world that you live in.

With a sigh, you sit and watch the code on your monitors and wait for the learning to begin.

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Posted in General Inspiration, Hope For Students, Hope for Teachers, Pep Talk, Uncategorized

Ain’t No Tired Like Teacher Tired…


Dear Teacher,

It’s been a while. I am sorry about that. I have been busy…teacher busy. You know, no time for the extras in life. I know I am preaching to the choir here, but being a teacher is exhausting!

So much to do. So much to think about. So much to plan for. So much to do. Wait, did I say that already?

And that is just the school stuff. Then there is home life. Friend life. Life. Who has the time?

We do…we make the time…but we are tired. Being tired is okay. It comes with the job. But…

Make sure your tired is worth it.

Sometimes our tired comes from doing things that really, really, REALLY matter for our students (and our life). Sometimes it doesn’t.

DearTeacherLT2016 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)
DearTeacherLT2016 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)

Sometimes we are spending our time and energy on things that may not be that important. Often times, these things are given to us to do by other. Other times we give these things to ourselves.

It is easier said than done, but we have got to prioritize…and that means taking a hard look at ourselves and what we are doing. It might mean carving away things we love to do in our classroom but really aren’t making much of a difference. It might also mean taking a stand with powers that be about things that are not worth the time and energy taken away from your students.

It is hard, but you need to do it, Teacher. I need to do it. Our students can’t afford to have us burn out.

And I know you can do this. You are awesome! You are amazing. You can definitely make changes and fight battles for the sake of your students and your sanity! You can do it. I can do it. We just have to step up and do it!

I can’t be anymore specific on how to prioritize because I don’t know your situation. But I think you know the things that can and need to go. Whatever they are, I totally have your back and believe in you. I don’t want an amazing teacher like you to burnout and leave the field that needs you.

Have I mentioned that you are awesome? Well, you are!

DearTeacherLT2016 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)
DearTeacherLT2016 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)

Thank you for all you do. Thank you for the work you put it. Thank you for fighting hard to make a difference in the life of your students. You are. You definitely are! You rock! Keep going and keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

PS…Could you do me a favor and check out the new posters I created and let me know what you think? They are based on growth mindset. I tried to come up with a way to promote the mindset with my classroom walls. This is the second set of these (you can get a free preview of some of the posters from each set here). I am a big believer in promoting growth mindset…and students eyes wonder around the room anyway, why not have something on the wall to help inspire them to set goals and work hard to reach them?! Oh, and if you like them, they are on sale right now! Thanks! ūüôā

DearTeacherLT2016 - The Motivational/Growth-Mindset ABCs (volume two)
DearTeacherLT2016 – The Motivational/Growth-Mindset ABCs (volume two)

Posted in Life After Bad Days, Not Giving Up

The Teacher and September, 7th, 2016


Dear Teacher,

I want to try something a little different and see if it helps you.  I want to write you a little note every day.  Just something to lift your spirits, get you pumped, remind you why you teach, or maybe just give you a little giggle about being a part of the world we call education.  I will try to organize the messages better so that if you need a certain kind of encouragement on any given day, you can go to the archives and find it.

We’ll see how it goes. ¬†I really like this idea. ¬†Do you?

Without further ado, let’s talk about today.

Today is today.  Nothing more.  Nothing less.  It is just today.

And even though it is quite a cliche, it is nonetheless true…today is what you make of it.

In my life and in my experience teaching, I can’t get way from the fact that my attitude determines about 97.5% of how my day goes. ¬†Circumstances are just what happens. ¬†Attitude is how I happen.

There is a line in a song by a band called Superchic(k) that says, “Life doesn’t happen to you, you happen to life.” ¬†I’ve always liked that line. ¬†It is true. ¬†It is about how we react to the ebb and flow of life. ¬†We can let it wash over us and determine how we feel…or we can set our determination and make each day what we want it to be.

So, Teacher, what are you going to make today be?

What is your determination?

How are you going to happen to life today?

What is your day going to be?

Motivational/Growth Mindset ABCs https://goo.gl/wU4BW9
Motivational/Growth Mindset ABCs
https://goo.gl/wU4BW9

You know I think you are pretty dang amazing, right? ¬†You are a great teacher. ¬†You’ve got this today. ¬†Don’t let circumstances and small stuff (or big stuff) change you…change those things by being the awesome that you are! ¬†Never give up and always keep teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

Posted in Reflection, Take Care of Yourself, You Are Awesome!!!

Lost and Found


(c)DearTeacherLT2013 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)
(c)DearTeacherLT2013 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)

Dear Teacher,

I bet you thought I was gone for good, huh? ¬†I haven’t written you in quite some time. ¬†I am sorry for that. ¬†But it was necessary.

I needed a break.

Sometimes we all do, and I definitely did.  I needed one and I took one.

I did not know how long the break from blogging would last. ¬†I even let the domain name go for a bit. ¬†I wasn’t sure if I would be back…but here I am. ¬†I am here for you.

Where did I go?

Well, just like for you, the world is spinning. ¬†I think everyone feels that, but teachers and educators especially do. ¬†We have so much to do and take care of between school life and home life…and sometimes the world is moving faster than we can keep up with and all we can do is hold on for dear life.

That is where I was…holding on for dear life.

I had to do what we all do.  I had to evaluate all of my self-given responsibilities and decide which ones needed to take a backseat and even go in the trunk for a while.  I had to make some hard choices.  Writing to you was one thing that I could put down for a while, and I did.  I did because I had to.

I am back, now, though. ¬†Hopefully you didn’t need my encouragement too much and were able to find some from another source for a while.

I am writing to you to challenge you to take some time this summer and figure out what you might need to put down for a while. ¬†What is the extra that is good but might be the one-too-many for your life? ¬†What are you juggling that you don’t have to? ¬†What can you put aside for a while?

And sometimes you need to think about picking something else up once you put it down.

What is something that you want to do or love doing that you could buy some time for by stopping something else?  Is there a hobby?  A bucket-list item?  A place you want to visit?  Anything?

Find a way to make some time for that this summer. ¬†You might just find the you that you’ve forgotten for a while.

For me it was a little (big) side project…I invented a math-based board game, and followed through with it until it was an actual game. ¬†I will share about it in another post later, but I can’t tell you how good it felt to do something different and try a new challenge. ¬†It brought my creativity back to life after a good but draining school year. ¬†I am refreshed and renewed because I put something down (this blog) and tried something new (board game design).

Could you do something similar this summer?  I encourage you to try!

Have you been doing this already?  If so, let me know what you have put down and what you have picked up in the comments!

You are awesome, as always, and I hope you are having an amazing break from the day-to-day of teaching.  You are making a difference for everyone in your life!  Keep on resting this summer and keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

(Oh, and if you are interested in hearing more about the board game that I am quite proud of, let me know in the comments, as well!)

DearTeacherLT2015 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)
DearTeacherLT2015 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)

Posted in End of the Year, Take Care of Yourself

Are We There Yet? Exhaustion and Last Days…


Dear Teacher,

It is drawing ever nearer to the last days of school (if you aren’t already there). ¬†You are tired. ¬†No…strike that. ¬†You are completely and utterly exhausted. ¬†This school year has done you in. ¬†You are so done with all of the chaos and drama.

And you deserve to feel that way…it has been a TOUGH year.

You have made it through, but only barely.

The last weeks and days of school are a light at the end of the tunnel, and you feel like your students do right before the buses come.  You are just watching that clock.

Image Source: Wikimedia (Wikipedia)

You keep waiting for the seconds to tick down. ¬†And they feel slow incredibly slow. ¬†Why can’t it just be over. ¬†You need it to be over.

Let me remind you, it is almost time.  You are almost there.

You need this summer…and summer’s coming, friend. ¬†Summer is coming!

It¬†is okay that you’re¬†worn out right now. ¬†If you weren’t, I would be worried that there is something wrong with you or if you might actually be a superhero…or alien…or both. ¬†This year has been rough, and you should be tired in every way shape and form.

And for this reason, it is also okay to be excited about your coming “break” – even with all of the work you have to do eventually over the summer…it still counts as a break. ¬†You get to recharge. ¬†You get to relax. ¬†You get to unwind from the stress of this year.

DearTeacherLT2016 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)
DearTeacherLT2016 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)

You have done well this year, my Teacher Friend. ¬†You have made a difference this year, even if it doesn’t feel like it right now. ¬†You have earned the right to look forward to the summer. ¬†You have my permission to watch the clock. ¬†ūüôā

You are an amazingly awesome teacher! ¬†You will always be. ¬†Enjoy the rest of the year! ¬†Keep on clock-watching…errr…I mean teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

 

 

Posted in General Inspiration, Hope for Teachers, Note to Teachers, Teacher Song, Theme Song

Hello From the Other Side (of the school year)


DearTeacherLT2016 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)
DearTeacherLT2016 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)

Dear Teacher,

It is almost the end of the year…I think it calls for a special post. ¬†Theme song post time!

I have actually been thinking about this one for a while. ¬†The song is “Hello” by Adele. ¬†The song is great, but lately I have started to think about my teaching life and the different versions of my teacher self throughout the school year.

What if I could call and talk to myself at the beginning of the year? ¬†What would I say? ¬†What would I hold back? ¬†Would I advise? ¬†Would I apologize? ¬†I don’t know…but I am going to give it a shot here. ¬†Please “listen in” on my conversation with myself and think about what you might say to yourself.

Oh, and I realize that this is a just a ¬†cover of the original song, but I really like this version…so click play ¬†and then¬†read on.

Hello.

It’s me.

We need to talk.

First of all, I would just like to say, you are so awesome! ¬†Your ideas and energy. ¬†It is why I teach. ¬†You know that you are going to make a difference this year, and I love you for this. ¬†Don’t lose that. ¬†Never lose that.

However…

Hello from the other side.

This is going to be a rough year.  You are going to face trials and troubles like you have never seen.  You are going to have your teaching heart broken.  You are going to want to quit.

You will really consider it.

I wish I would have gotten in touch with you sooner.

I have needed your spark and light.

There are going to be times that the spark is going to almost be extinguished and that light is going to dim.

I am sorry to tell you, but you are barely going to make it through the year alive (as a teacher).

I have barely made it.

I am barely here.

Your full-on sprint at the beginning of the year is going to taper down to where I am right now.  I am crawling to the finish line.  And I can barely breathe.  I am barely teacher living.

I am sorry for what I have done to you.

I really am.

But..

Hello from the other side.

Let me just assure of one undeniable truth.  From where I am right now, it was worth it.

I can see where our students have come from and how far they’ve come. ¬†We have made a difference. ¬†We have changed lives. ¬†We have done everything that your optimistic heart hoped and dreamed for this year. ¬†We’ve done it!

You will be completely drained, beat-up, and exhausted, but you have affected the lives of your students for forever.  Amazing things have happened in our classroom this year.  There has been magic.  There has been wonder.

Do not give up the fight.

Keep going.

Keep running.

Keep fighting.

It will all be worth it in the end!

Hello from the other side…

Thanks for reading my little message to myself.  Did you see yourself in this?  Could you have the same conversation with your beginning-of-the-year-you?

You know, no matter what happened this year, beautiful things happened in that classroom of yours.  Magic and life change did occur.  Everything you went through was worth it for the sake of your students.  To help remind you of this, I want to close this note to you with a few more teachers stories of classroom beauty and magic that happened this year.  And if you would like to share a story of wonder from your classroom, you can do so here.

Teacher Michelle – Kindergarten

I work hard on creating a family out of my class of kindergarteners. They come from very low income homes and have very rough lives. In my classroom we work hard on creating relationships and bonding.It can get really hard, but the rewards are worth it.

Recently a child in my class won a ticket to Six Flags for being the only one who completed the required minutes of reading and turned the paper in. when i announced it to my class, i honestly expected to hear a lot of whining and “why didnt I get one!?” But INSTEAD… when i made the announcement my ENTIRE CLASS began applauding and shouting out “good job!” and “good for you!”

That was the day I knew we were a family.

Teacher Joanne – High School (Retired)

I retired from full time teaching and now work as an office manager for a national tax preparation company.
During the season, I was assisting a client who was accompanied by one of my former students, a friend of hers. She asked him if he had done his taxes yet, and he said, “Oh yes, Ms. Maura taught us all about it in finance class.” I wanted to hug him, but I said, “Thank God someone was paying attention that day!” I won’t also mention all of the greetings I get in the community (I live in the city where I taught for 20+ years).

Teacher Alice – High School

My first year of teaching was a challenging experience, as it is for many teachers. I was teaching 6-7 periods a day, and my classes were mutli-leveled ESL classes. In one class, I had everything from a level one (absolute beginner) to 5 (advanced, ready to transition to mainstream) in the same class. I struggled mightily.

At the end of the year, I assigned the students to write a thank you letter to someone in the building that had made a difference for them during the year. One sweet, upper level student, who had been an immense help to me in that challenging class, placed her note on my desk at the end of the class and told me to open it. The text of the note read, “thank you, thank you, thank you! One thank you for all you taught me this year, one thank you for being there for me, and one thank you for how you change my life. Always remember this, Miss: stars need darkness to shine. I may not know how to write a letter, but I know there is not a wrong way to say thank you.” I sat at my desk and bawled.

Teacher, you are making a difference and have done amazing work this year! ¬†You are so awesome! ¬†Please know that everything you went through this year was worth. ¬†You have had a greater effect than you will ever know. ¬†Thanks for all that you do! ¬†Hold on…the year is almost over! ¬†Keep on doing the incredible things you do and keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

PS…Dear Teacher/Love Teacher is looking for a little help. ¬†Check this out for more information. ¬†Thanks!

 

Posted in A Call for Help, Teacher Song

The Beautiful Music of Education – #Teacher Song


DearTeacherLT2016 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)
DearTeacherLT2016 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)

Dear Teacher and World,

Wow, this is the very first time that I addressed someone here besides teachers!

The reason I want to invite everyone in on this post (and future posts like this one) is because there is a something that teachers and other educators realize that others may not.  The education discussion starts on the wrong track because there is something that happens day after day and year after year in most classrooms, and it is something that cannot be measured.  There is magic and beauty.

Students start in one place in the year academically and they should end in academic growth, that is for sure. ¬†But that is just the tip of the iceberg. ¬†They also start somewhere socially, somewhere emotionally, somewhere with work ethic, somewhere with empathy, somewhere in the understanding of self…and it is in the classroom that growth in these areas happen, as well. ¬†Sometimes, growth in these areas far outweighs academics, and academic growth can’t happen until the other changes do.

And these things are not quite as measurable as academics…but they are far more beautiful.

Beauty can’t be tested, but it can be shared. ¬†And it should be shared.

So I sent the call out to teachers two days ago to share their stories with me so I can share them with you. ¬†I have been overwhelmed by the response and stories I have received. ¬†The teaching and learning process, for both teachers and students, is such an incredible aspect of life. ¬†I can’t help but share it with you.

The following are three stories from three different places in the US. ¬†The schools, states, and grade levels¬†are all different…but the beauty is the same. ¬†Please read and take in how amazing education truly is!

Teacher Rita from Wisconsin:

We’ve been working on shoe-tying in kindergarten. We feel it’s important for several reasons. One, it builds fine-motor skills. Two, it builds perseverance strategies to deal with frustration. Three, it makes kids feel successful! One little boy just couldn’t get it…until…he DID!!! He had his mom video him tying and posted it to my Facebook page. He was sooooo proud! His mom was too, she wrote, “You are amazing! He has been working so hard and is so excited to show you in person! He even told me he wants to bring my shoe to school to show his class…. ” What a feeling for all three of us!

Teacher M from Maryland:

This is my 18th year of being a classroom educator. I have taught in Ohio and Maryland, and would not change my profession for ANYTHING in the world. I work with Co-teach sections of 6th and 7th grade Science in a Title 1 school. Many of my students do not have a great home environment.

During the course of the year, my students learn Science topics, but I also try to get them to understand that our class is like a family…dysfunctional as it may be at times with 24+ pre-teens/teenagers in a room. Because I am in a new building this year, I do not have the immunity that I had at my previous school, so I have been out sick a lot. The last time I was out some of my students got together and made a card for me and chipped in together to buy me a little stuffed octopus. The look of joy on their faces when I was reading the card and looking inside my “goodie” bag to find Octo was priceless! These students have so little and don’t realize how rich they really are if they but look past their circumstances. My students constantly keep me going and I love them for it!

Teacher Irene from Iowa:

I am a middle and high school special education math teacher. This is my seventh career, and I have finally found my calling. This story is about my Life Skills Math class from this year. These are the lowest kids we have in our school. My goal every year is to equip them with the math skills they will need to be successful and not get taken advantage of after high school. I work with these students year after year, so we grow quite close as a group. This is my eighth year teaching.

I never, ever, thought I’d be able to teach multiplication to this group. I see the need for some instant recall of facts at the higher levels, but wasn’t convinced that these students would benefit from that knowledge. Or that they’d even be able to retain the info.

But I’m a risk-taker, and these kids have grown tremendously this year, so I thought I’d give it a try as we’ve spent a good part of the year practicing skip counting by 2’s, 5’s and 10’s. I researched and came up with strategies for the “easiest” multiplication. And one of my students presented a strategy for multiplying by 6’s that I had never heard of!!! I fully believe she may have come up with it on her own…

I am extremely proud to say that my students can now multiply by 0, 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 9 and 10!!!! I have made colorful signs to hang on the wall reminding us of the strategies for each. I cannot wait to see what they do next year!

I don’t know about you, but I can’t help but be blown away by stories like these…both as a fellow teacher and as the parent of a child in school (soon to be two in school). ¬†Teachers, administrators, and school staff help make magic happen every day and every year, and it is amazing!

World, thanks for reading and taking a glimpse at what we get to see every day at schools and in our classrooms.  Please know that there is more that is going on than can be measured on a test.  Great things really are happening!  I will share more of them with you soon.

Teacher, I hope you found something else besides just the beauty in these stories.  I hope you found yourself.  I hope you were thinking about the amazing things you see happening all of the time.  These are what count.  These are what we are meant to focus on.  What beautiful things have you seen in your time as a teacher?  Will you share them with me?  Check out this post to find out how you can share your classroom magic with me and let me help you join the Teacher Song that the world needs to hear!

You are amazing!  Thanks for all you do, Teacher.  Keep making those magically beautiful things happen!  Keep on teaching!  You rock!

-Love Teacher